The Best Ways To Fight Oily Skin This Summer

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What time is it? Summertime! Most of us can't wait for summer to arrive each year, and who doesn't love spending time in the sunshine after those cold winter months? But while you might be thrilled that warmer weather has finally arrived, you might notice that your skin isn't nearly as enthusiastic.

Raise your hand if you spend most of the summer trying to dab oil from your face. That shiny complexion is the last thing anyone wants when it's the perfect season to be out and about. Unfortunately, along with higher temperatures, summer brings with it higher levels of humidity. Your skin takes this as a cue to produce more sebum, which is responsible for your shiny complexion, Melanie Palm, M.D., tells Forbes.

Summer should be all about having a good time, not constantly feeling like you want to hide your face under a paper bag. While oily skin is sometimes genetic, your age and skincare routine can also have an impact, board-certified dermatologist Wendy Engelman tells Women's Health. She warns that using heavy skincare products or skincare that saps your skin of moisture can lead to an overproduction of oil. Engelman says that it's not always possible to permanently kick oily skin to the curb, but there are some steps you can take to control the shine. Luckily for you, we've gathered them so you don't have to.

Invest in sweat-proof makeup

This is kind of a no-brainer, but if your skin tends to get oily during summer, opting for makeup that sticks will ensure you maintain your morning glow throughout the day without any added shine.

Celebrity makeup artist Ashunta Sheriff tells Forbes that waterproof makeup is your best bet. Products that are long-lasting should also do the trick if you can't find a waterproof version. Melanie Palm, M.D., says it's important to avoid heavy makeup that prevents your skin from breathing properly. Products like these typically cause oil, dirt, and sweat to become trapped in your pores, leading to breakouts.

Palm suggests you switch up your makeup for summer: Instead of regular foundation, opt for one that's oil-free, and make sure you use a lightweight primer. Women's Health suggests you ditch your liquid foundation and try a mineral powder instead; it will absorb excess oil and prevent clogged pores. If you absolutely do not want to break up with your liquid foundation, opt for a good setting powder. You can also simply apply a tinted moisturizer if a sheer look is what you're after. Sheriff says that adding setting spray after applying your makeup will ensure it stays immune to the summer heat. Palm added that it's also a good idea to steer clear of skincare products that have an emollient base since that can encourage your skin to produce even more oil.

Don't skip the moisturizer

If your skin gets incredibly oily during the summer months, skipping the moisturizing step of your skincare routine might seem tempting and even pretty reasonable, but dermatologists warn that doing so will only make things worse.

Speaking to Prevention, board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, M.D., said that applying moisturizer is a must because it actually provides your skin with an extra layer of protection, preventing rebound oil production. She recommends a moisturizer that is oil-free and light, like Neutrogena's Hydro Boost Water Gel or EltaMD Am Therapy. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found that aloe vera can also serve as an excellent moisturizer for oily skin. It's an excellent acne-buster as well, so you'll cover all your bases. Researchers advise people to opt for products that contain at least 10% aloe. Anything less than that won't be as effective. 

It might be tempting to apply pure aloe gel to your face — the more potent, the better right? But while using aloe gel on your face is perfectly fine, Medical News Today warns that you should check the list of ingredients first. Often, pure aloe gel contains compounds like denatured alcohol, which can irritate and dry out your skin — thus leading to more oil production.

Wash your skin regularly, but don't overdo it

When it's hot and humid and your skin is as oily as it can possibly be, it can be tempting to wash it repeatedly, and even harshly. We get it; oily skin can be incredibly frustrating, but you should hold off on that face scrubbing session.

While ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are known for kicking serious butt when it comes to oily and acne-prone skin, dermatologist Kathryn Grossman, M.D., tells Cosmopolitan that overusing them in an attempt to get rid of that excess shine can actually lead to more oil and more breakouts. This is because these ingredients can irritate your skin if you use them too much, not to mention that they can sap it of moisture, which only triggers more oil production.

Grossman says that no amount of cleaning in the world is going to make your shiny complexion disappear. Just because your skin is oily doesn't mean it's dirty; it's simply how your skin operates, Grossman says. However, cleansing is important — just don't overdo it. Grossman recommends you use something that is gentle on your skin, like the Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Removing Foam Wash. You can use this one twice a day. If you are itching to add another step to your cleansing routine, Grossman says you can apply an alcohol-free toner like Dickinson's Hydrating Toner once a day. Then follow with a light moisturizer, preferably one that contains hyaluronic acid.

Add some retinoids to your skincare routine

Retinoids have been touted for their ability to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and keep acne at bay. As it turns out, they're also pretty good at reducing the amount of oil your skin produces during the hot summer months.

Speaking to Prevention, board-certified dermatologist Heidi Prather explains that retinoids' magic lies in their ability to shrink sebaceous glands, and smaller sebaceous glands — you guessed it — leads to less oil production. Sweet. There is, however, a catch: If you've never used retinoids before, your skin might get worse before it gets better. You can expect to experience dry skin and even peeling when you first start applying it. This can lead to even greasier skin, but don't lose hope. Board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse says that these pesky side effects will be a distant memory once your skin adjusts, leaving you with that sought-after glow minus the shine.

If you're already opening extra tabs on your internet browser to find the perfect retinoid, keep in mind that there are different types. Most potent retinoids require a prescription from your doctor or dermatologist, but there are some pretty effective products you can buy at your local drugstore. If you'd like to ease into it, you can start with a good retinol cream. Retinol is gentler on your skin than retinoids, so it's perfect if you're just getting started. If you'd like to dive into retinoids head-first without a prescription, you can buy Differin Gel over the counter without a prescription.

Don't forget to apply sunscreen

While it's important to wear sunscreen every day, applying it during the hot summer months is even more important. If you have oily skin, however, you need to check the labels first.

Speaking to SkinKraft, dermatologist Harish Koutam said that those with oily skin should opt for a sunscreen that is oil-free. This will prevent clogged pores and breakouts. He also recommends you opt for an SPF of 30 or higher to ensure maximum protection; and don't forget to reapply it every two hours, especially if you're sweating a lot.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, those with oily skin should opt for sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These compounds prevent breakouts. It's also smart to steer clear of sunscreens that contain any type of oil or fragrance. Just as with a moisturizer, check that the sunscreen is non-comedogenic to ensure it won't clog your pores.

Watch your diet

What you eat really does have an impact on your skin, and some of us like to indulge a bit over the summer. But if your skin's oil production increases along with the temperatures, it'd be a good idea to check in with your lifestyle and diet.

Board-certified dermatologist Hadley King told Women's Health that certain foods like dairy typically contribute to breakouts and acne. "For milk and dairy products, we think that they promote insulin secretion and the production of hormones, such as IGF-1, which is known to be a major contributor to acne development," King says. She also warns that sugar-laden foods and drinks can trigger inflammation, which, in turn, causes the body to produce even more sebum. If oily skin is a problem for you, trying out foods that are dairy free and low in sugar might make a difference.

Another culprit is alcohol. No, we're not saying you need to swear off cocktail hour, but it would be in your skin's best interest to refrain from drinking too much. This is because alcohol can actually cause oil glands to expand, which leads to larger pores and, therefore, more oil.

Exfoliate once a week

Having very oily skin warrants a good scrub every night, right? Wrong! According to SkinKraft, you'll only be making things worse. Exfoliating your skin too much will irritate it and damage its delicate barrier. This will cause your sebaceous glands to freak out and produce even more sebum, leading to more oil and breakouts.

There is a flip side, however. When your skin is oily, dead skin cells tend to stick around longer than they should, dermatologist Michele Green, M.D., tells Self. These leftover skin cells end up clogging pores, leading to breakouts. Green suggests you exfoliate once a week to eliminate dead skin cells. A physical exfoliator usually works best, but if you're currently breaking out, skincare guru Ole Henriksen suggests you opt for a chemical exfoliator since the physical kind can injure or irritate existing pimples. 

You should also be very careful not to dry out your skin, so using a gentle cleanser alongside your exfoliating regimen is essential. Green also recommends you skip the toning step of your routine when exfoliating.

Check the labels on your skincare products

Skincare products play a vital role when it comes to the overall health of your skin, so reading ingredient lists is a must, especially if you struggle with oily skin during the summer months.

Speaking to Prevention, board-certified dermatologist David Lortscher, M.D., said that there are a few key phrases people with oily skin need to look out for on skincare product labels before they add it to their carts. "Use products labeled with terms like 'non-comedogenic,' 'non-acnegenic,' 'doesn't clog pores,' or 'won't cause breakouts,'" Lortscher advises. These phrases usually indicate that the product was created with oily, acne-prone skin in mind.

You should also pay attention to the list of active ingredients. Compounds like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are excellent oil and acne busters because it helps slow oil production. Other ingredients that can also help control shine and breakouts include sulfur, zinc, retinoids, and niacinamide. Melanie Palm, M.D., says that it's also important to consider the type of product you buy. Oily skin tends to tolerate gels, serums, lotions, and powders better than ointments and creams.

Avoid drying toners

Don't get us wrong, toners are a great way to treat oily skin, but you have to go about it the right way. If you notice that summer brings out the shine on your t-zone, but the rest of your face tends to be drier, a toner can be a great way to spot-reduce oil in that area (via Byrdie). If you have very oily skin, you can use a toner twice a day, but usually, using it a few times during the week is enough.

Board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, M.D., told Prevention that it's best to steer clear of toners that include drying ingredients like alcohol or apple cider vinegar. These products might trick you into thinking that you managed to rid of that pesky oiliness, but it really only dries out the top layer of your skin. 

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found that natural astringents like witch hazel can soothe the skin while also keeping oil production at bay. Shainhouse says that micellar water can make for a great toner. Look for ingredients like charcoal and witch hazel, which will help prevent clogged pores, as well as ingredients that will moisturize and mattify your skin, like hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, or glycerin.

Apply a quality face mask

Along with your daily skincare routine, a quality face mask can make all the difference for oily skin. Hadley King, M.D., told Women's Health that a clay mask is a great option because it can absorb extra oil. She recommends applying it once or twice a week. Celebrity esthetician Joanna Vargas tells Byrdie that clay masks are especially great for those who most struggle with oiliness and breakouts in their t-zone. If the rest of your face tends to be dry, Vargas says to apply the mask to your t-zone only.

You can also try out a sulfur mask, which is great for busting inflammation and drawing out deep-rooted dirt, Melanie Palm, M.D., tells Prevention. It also does a great job of reducing oil production by soothing the hair follicles and oil glands. Palm added that it's important to apply a moisturizer after you remove the mask, especially if your skin feels a little tight.

Keep blotting paper at hand

Say hello to your new summer bestie: blotting paper. When you're out and about and worried about the shine on your face, blotting paper will be there to save the day. Just a few dabs and your complexion will be restored to a perfect, matte finish. 

Speaking to Forbes, Melanie Palm, M.D., said that tissue paper can also do the trick. Celebrity cosmetic dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank, M.D., tells Byrdie that napkins and toilet paper work fine, too. Blotting sheets are pretty inexpensive, however, and they fit perfectly into a handbag, so you can take them with you on the go. Forbes recommends the Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets. Frank is a fan of Boscia's Clear Complexion Blotting Linens. You can even opt for an all-natural blotting paper, board-certified dermatologist Heidi Prather told Prevention. She recommends the Tatcha Japanese Blotting Papers that contain abaca leaf and gold flakes and absorbs oil in a pinch without messing up your makeup.

Consider trying natural treatments like honey

As usual, mother nature has a few tricks up her sleeve when it comes to our skin concerns. According to Healthline, honey can be a great oil and acne buster, thanks to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Honey can also moisturize the skin without making it oily, thanks to its ability to retain moisture. If you'd like to see the magical benefits for yourself, spread a thin layer of honey over your face and relax for 10 minutes before rinsing it off.

Another great natural remedy for oily skin is jojoba oil. Healthline explains that this natural oil seems to have the ability to mimic sebum. When you apply it to your skin, your sebaceous glands calm down and slow oil production, which can help to prevent a shiny complexion. However, this is still a theory, and while a 2012 study published in Complementary Medicine Research found that applying a mixture of jojoba oil and healing clay as a mask can help treat mild acne, more research is required. If you want to try it, just make sure you use very little at a time since too much jojoba oil can make oily skin worse.

Consider taking supplements or prescribed medication

Perhaps you've tried all the abovementioned treatments and nothing has worked. If that's the case, you might want to consider checking in with your doctor or dermatologist so they can prescribe medication to address your oily skin concerns.

Board-certified dermatologist Ope Ofodile, M.D., tells Cosmopolitan that there are some very effective medications that can help curb your body's oil production and even shrink your oil glands. But don't get too excited just yet – Isotretinoin (better known as Accutane), which is typically prescribed to shrink oil glands and reduce oil production, has some very serious side effects, so you might want to consider whether they outweigh the benefits. You can also ask your doctor if there are some lower-risk meds that will work for you, like Spironolactone, which works by targeting the hormone that triggers oil production.

If you don't want to go for the strong stuff yet, try a supplement. Speaking to Byrdie, board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, M.D., said that you should look for a supplement that contains vitamins A and B3, and zinc. These compounds each work their own magic to take care of extra oil and acne. Byrdie recommends you try the MegaFood Skin, Nails, and Hair 2 supplement.

Try laser treatments or Botox

If you're someone who likes to take a hands-on approach when it comes to skin issues, trying botox or laser treatments might be a great option for you. While Botox is most commonly used to address issues like aging, it can work great to manage oily skin. According to Women's Health, Botox does a great job of reducing sebum production by preventing sebaceous glands from growing. The best part? You only need a few injections per year to see the results. Sweet.

Laser treatments like Clear + Brilliant laser and Fraxel can also be helpful, according to Cosmopolitan. Not only are these treatments great for reducing the appearance of scars and dark spots, but they can also make your pores smaller, which can help your skin appear less oily. If you'd like to opt for a gentler and cheaper treatment first, board-certified dermatologist Ope Ofodile, M.D., suggests you treat yourself to a HydraFacial once a month. This facial exfoliates your skin using a pore vacuum that draws out deep-rooted dirt. To top it off, this treatment also cleanses and moisturizes your skin. You'll walk out of the salon with unclogged pores and oil-free skin with just the right amount of glow.